Records & Results: Autographs

On Thursday, May 4, we held an auction of Autographs, with twentieth-century highlights by authors taking the spotlight. The sale performed well overall, with 88% of items offered finding buyers.


Lot 224A: Elliott Erwitt, photograph of John F. Kennedy & Dwight D. Eisenhower, signed by both, circa 1960. Sold May 4, 2017 for $32,500.


The top lot was a photograph by Elliot Erwitt of President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his successor John F. Kennedy, signed by both, during their historic transitional meeting at the White House on December 6, 1960, which more than doubled its high estimate of $15,000 to sell for $32,500.


Lot 200: Photograph Signed by all nine justices of the 1925 Taft Court, Washington, 1925-30. Sold May 4, 2017 for $10,625.


Additional material from the three branches of American government included several group portraits of Supreme Court Justices, led by a photograph of all nine justices of the 1925 Taft Court, signed by each, which reached $10,625, above a high estimate of $2,000. This was followed by a photograph of each justice of the 1939 Hughes Court, also signed by all, which sold for $5,500.


Lot 323: Agatha Christie, Autograph Manuscript notebook with early drafts of her plays, Baghdad, circa 1948. Sold May 4, 2017 for $18,750,
a record for a manuscript by the author.


Autographs by authors performed especially well, with highlights being an Autograph Letter Signed by Kahlil Gibran to a Mr. Horowitz on July 10, 1928, which reached more than ten times its high estimate of $1,200 to sell to a collector for $13,000, a record for an autograph by Gibran. Another record was achieved for an Autograph Manuscript by Agatha Christie that included drafts of various novels and plays, written circa 1948 in Baghdad, which reached $18,750, a record for a manuscript by Christie. Three drafts by Arthur Conan Doyle for the lecture he delivered on his 1894 North American Tour sold for $10,652.


Lot 7: Ernest Hemingway, Autograph Letter Signed “Love / Mr. Papa,” to Marlene Dietrich, Cuba, 1952. Sold May 4, 2017 for $18,750.


Also among the top lots were love letters by Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, led by a 1952 letter inviting her to visit him in Cuba and discussing his latest novel, The Old Man and the Sea, written on hotel stationery on August 12, 1952, which sold for $18,750. In another, written in Venice two years before, he tells her he does not believe in horoscopes; the two-page Autograph Letter Signed sold to a collector for $11,250.


Lot 99: Photograph of Andrew Carnegie, signed and inscribed to
Judge Gary. Sold May 4, 2017 for $3,750.


Marco Tomaschett, Autographs Specialist at Swann Galleries, noted, “There continues to be a rapidly intensifying interest in high-quality autographs associated with past leaders in business, including Andrew Carnegie (in this sale, but also especially Alexander Hamilton and Robert Morris in other recent auctions).” The standout lot in question was a Photograph Signed and Inscribed by Carnegie, which carried an estimate of $600 to $900, but after rabid bidding reached $3,750.


The next sale of Autographs at Swann Galleries will be held November 7, 2017. Now accepting quality consignments.

Browse the catalogue full results.